Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Kissing Tree is a Delight from Beginning to End

I was surprised (pun totally intended) and overjoyed to be asked by Karen Witemeyer to review her novella Inn for a Surprise part of  The Kissing Tree collection.

Confession: I may have fangirled when getting her e-mail request. E-mails from authors are like fan mail to least THIS reader. 

This novella introduces us to Phoebe Woodward an aspiring writer and resident of Oak Springs, Texas who dreams of building an inn catered as a romantic retreat for couples capitalizing on the grandeur and romance of the "Kissing Tree." Though she has never been in love, she often reads romance novels and finds inspiration for her stories in the carvings etched into the trunk of the legendary tree.

Barnabas Ackley has been tasked by Phoebe's father, Hollis Woodward, to aid her in the business planning and success of the inn. He is a pragmatic, no-nonsense man who only sees the commercial side and has difficulty incorporating the romantic aspect. Over time, Barnabas perceives Phoebe in a different light. "It also painted a clearer picture of Miss Phoebe Woodward. The inn wasn't just an unrealistic exercise in romanticism dreamt up by a naïve young woman who read too many novels. It was a preservation of the abiding love her parents had shared. Yet instead of hoarding the magic herself, she sought a way to share with others. Rather remarkable, that." (Witemeyer, 124).

Practicality (Barnabas) meets Passion (Phoebe). A battle of wits and clashing ideals ensues between them. He proposes a contest. They each decorate a room in the inn, offer to let couples stay at no charge and collect data through a series of questions as to which room they liked the best and why. The storyline made me think of a historical HGTV design show. Who will win?  (Find out after our next commercial break proudly brought to you by Woodward Land Development Company).

Karen excels at writing the best banter between characters. You just can't help but experience all the emotions: laughing, crying, and more while reading her books. Phoebe and Barnabas' love story is just so much fun and you don't want to miss it. To be honest, it was just what I needed to be reading right now. So thank you Karen for writing this fantastic read!

The notion that all of the love stories revolve around the Kissing Tree is so enchanting and unique. Each novella from the beginning to the end was a delight. To get the full effect and enjoyment of this collection of novellas; I recommend reading them in the order they are written. As a reader, you'll glean more insights and nuggets of ways the stories are woven together. While reading this compilation of stories, I found myself laughing out loud a lot and smiling constantly. The Kissing Tree is not to be missed! 

If you are looking for a light-hearted reading experience (Who doesn't right now? Here's looking at you COVID 19) where you get to escape and meet some wonderful characters you just can't help to root for, then this is the book for you! Grab some tissues, a cozy blanket, some hot tea and get ready for the much needed getaway you need right now. 

~~The Kissing Tree was provided to me by the author and Bethany House in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own.~~

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Portrait of Loyalty is Picture Perfect


Portrait of Loyalty wraps up Roseanna M. White's Codebreaker series and what a poignant and touching conclusion! As a reader, completing a series is always bittersweet.
Spoiler Alert: You will need Kleenex for the last half of the book. 
Twenty- three year old Lilian 'Lily' Blackwell volunteers as a nurse at Charing Cross Hospital, but her real passion is photography. She uses her skills in re-touching and re-creating photographs for the intelligence division in Room 40. "She'd learned to capture motion-or its story, anyway-with her camera." (White, 39). 
Meeting Russian Zivon Marin at a dinner at her parents' home, she is surprised at her immediate interest and intrigue. She finds Zivon "an intriguing mass of  contradictions he was. The still and the active. The formal and the informal. The studied and the earnest." (White, 83). 
The friendship that flourishes between Zivon and Lily soon grows to love. Secrets and loyalties soon complicate their relationship. Can they overcome them, trust one another, and build a future together?

One quality I appreciated about Lily was how she viewed the world through her own lens. She saw beauty in God's creation and people. It reminded me to see the loveliness in this wonderful world God created for us. This seems especially important considering the circumstances we are facing in today's society. 

 You'll enjoy that some of the characters from Ms. White's previous series (Ladies of the Manor and Shadows Over England) appeared in Portrait of Loyalty.  It's always fun to be reunited with favorite characters from previous series...felt a little like it was old home week. Ms. White makes incorporating characters from her past series look so easy and seamless, but I'm sure it took a lot of effort and planning. 
If you loved WWI historical fiction, I highly recommend adding the Codebreaker series to the top of your TBR pile. The series can be read out of sequence, but I feel you'll get more appreciation and enjoyment if you read the series in order. Get ready to be swept away into meaningful stories and a beautiful recreation of another era!

~~ Portrait of Loyalty was provided to me by the author and Bethany House in return for my honest review. I received a complimentary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own. ~~

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

At Love's Command is Compelling

Karen Witemeyer has done it again! Anytime I have the privilege to read and review one of her books is a real treat! The author indulges her readers in her brand-new book entitled At Love's Command part of her Hanger's Horsemen series.

The series gets kicked off by us being introduced to Matthew "Matt" Hanger and his band of men.
They have been traumatized by the atrocities of war and vows to right wrongs and obtain justice for those unable to help themselves. While on a mission, one of their own is wounded and they become the ones in need of rescuing. 

This is where the adventure begins! They need help as soon as possible and it comes in an unexpected form. A female, and a doctor at that.

Being a female doctor in the late 1800's Josephine Burkett is used to men and others rejecting her medical skills. What she doesn't expect is for the legendary Matthew Hanger of Hanger's Horsemen fame to be in her clinic or offering to assist her in the surgery of one of his men. Josephine is soon won over by witnessing Matthew's willingness to serve and his dedication to his friend's recovery. 

I really appreciated how Karen Witemeyer showed the struggle that women had to go through to be respected and seen as equals in the medical field. Women are still working for equality and reading a book like this, even a fun and light read, helps remind you what women have fought for and why it's so important to keep fighting for equality. This added many layers to Josie's character, which I loved. 

On the flip side, the PTSD (not called that in the book) that Matt and his band of men are dealing with, created not only heros you were rooting for, but gave you deep compassion and understanding for our soldiers and anyone who has had or is still dealing with PTSD. 

Just when you think the story can't get any better "Josie" (Matt's nickname for her) learns her brother has been abducted for ransom and Hanger's Horsemen are her only hope. Josie convinces Matt to help and of course insists on being apart of the rescue mission, to Matt's frustration. It is an up and down ride as you turn each page waiting to discover if Matt will rescue her brother without sacrificing Josie or his men. I mean, I might have held my breath a few times, oh and also laughed out loud a few more times!

If you love a book that contains interesting characters, an exciting and thought provoking story, and includes a romance you cheer for, then this book is for you. I loved every moment of it. In fact, I made myself read it very slowly so I could enjoy it for as long as possible.  

Sometimes when I review Ms. Witemeyer's books I feel like I sound like a broken record. Being such a fan of her work, I can honestly say for me there is not one book of hers that I don't enjoy. Her books are ALWAYS solid and well-written with complex characters and compelling storylines. If you are a fan of Ms. Witemeyer's work, you need to add At Love's Command to  your TBR pile!

~~ At Love's Command was provided to me by the author and Bethany House in return for my honest review. I received a complementary copy of this book. All opinions expressed are my own. I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are my own.~~

Friday, January 31, 2020

On the Wings of Devotion: A Beautiful Story of Mercy

What better way to start off 2020 then with Roseanna M. White's newest book On the Wings of Devotion. It is the second book in her Codebreaker series. 

Arabella "Ara" Denler is a nurse at Charing Cross Hosptial and has witnessed her share of men whose lives have been forever altered by the Great War. 
She finds herself drawn into observing the man the papers nicknamed "Black Heart" who is better known as Major Philip 'Cam" Camden. She sees how eaten up with guilt he is and that he longs for mercy.

Through circumstances, Ara and Philip's lives become interwoven. They find themselves drawn to one another both by social visits and events out of their control.

Arabella Denler was by far my favorite character in the book. And it's not just because she was the heroine of the story. Oh must more than that. I admired her kindness, compassion for others coupled with her generosity and her passionate love for Christ and her praying and witnessing to others specifically Cam who thinks he "doesn't have a soul." (White, 179).  

I love how Arabella challenges Cam's view of himself and to see himself through the lens of grace. Everyone has a soul and I love how you get to see his character learn this for himself because of Arabella's strength to challenge him and share her love for Christ. Cam was a different hero then what you typically find and I really enjoyed that about this book. 

The cover art for On the Wings of Devotion was mesmerizing. Simply stunning! I loved the muted yellows and greens of her dress and the globe. The cover model had a unique understated beauty about her. While reading the book, I often found myself closing the book and flipping it to the front cover. 

If you have been looking for a book that will take you on a suspenseful journey and keep you guessing, this is the book for you. Happy Reading Adventures! 

~~On the Wings of Devotion was provided to me by author herself and Bethany House in return for my honest opinion. I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher and the author. I was not required to write a positive review. All viewpoints expressed are mine alone. ~~